Another brace from star striker Miracle Okafor against Stratford Town made it five straight September wins for unbeaten Halesowen, writes David Johnson.

Yeltz manager Paul Smith analysed the game as very different to the challenges faced so far.

He said: “It’s my favourite win of the season, they didn’t lay a glove on us. We had to show a different side of our game against a strong, physical side, so I’m really pleased with today’s performance. We’re a footballing side - we weren’t able to do so in the first half, but we rolled our sleeves up and won the battle.”

The first half did indeed prove to be more perspiration than inspiration for second-placed Halesowen against Stratford’s more direct and robust approach.

The Yeltz suffered an early blow when Jak Hickman limped off the field after just 6 minutes following an earlier foul, to be replaced by Luke Redfern. Halesowen then almost conceded an own goal when Reece Mitchell’s 8th minute back header caused a misunderstanding with his own goalkeeper Dan Platt with Platt furiously back-pedalling to scoop the ball off the goal line.

The Bards stifled the Yeltz throughout much of the first period, although McKauley Manning fired just past the post from almost 30 yards after 31 minutes. Jack Holmes was then brought down on the edge of Stratford’s area in the 38th minute but Miracle Okafor struck the free-kick against the defensive wall.

OKAFOR finally broke the deadlock with a superb 40th minute strike when he sidestepped Stratford’s vastly experienced central defence and smashed an unstoppable shot past Stratford goalkeeper Liam O’Brien.

The Yeltz got to grips fully to control play in the second half and Mitchell forced the first of two corners soon after the break. Kieren Donnelly went close when he nipped in to steal the ball and worked clear on goal only for O’Brien to save at his feet after 69 minutes. Just a minute later Holmes and Donnelly combined to both go close within the six yard box.

OKAFOR doubled the lead to seal another three points with a 2-0 win for Halesowen with his second of the game and tenth goal of the season when he beat O’Brien with a 15 yard shot after being set up by Holmes in the 73rd minute.

Halesowen Town:  Dan Platt (c); Jak Hickman (Luke Redfern 6), Reece Mitchell, Todd Parker, Ryan Wynter, Kieran Morris, Kieren Donnelly, Nathan Hayward (Simeon Cobourne 78), Miracle Okafor, Jack Holmes (Caine Elliott 74), McKauley Manning. Subs Not Used: Richard Gregory, Ryan Boothe.

Stratford Town: Liam O’Brien; Daniel Vann, Chris Hussey, Liam Daly, Paul McCone (c), Babatomiwa Solanke, Charlie Williams (Alex Worley 70), Lewis Ludford-Ison, Jack Storer, Daniel Lafferty (Kasonga Ngandu 54), Riley O’Sullivan. Subs Not Used: Louis Beresford (GK), Taylor Morrison, Jaylan Wildbore.

Referee: Martyn Gospel                        Attendance: 1,112

Booked: Ludford-Ison (65), Elliott (77), O’Sullivan (89)

Tulleys Print HTFC Man of the Match selected by ACE Embroidery: Miracle Okafor

Non-League Paper Man of the Match: Miracle Okafor

Report submitted by Halesowen Town